and why its okay I’m disappointed I didn’t get one.
I wanted to have a home birth with my second pregnancy because I had a young toddler at home who still very much needed me.
I wanted to have a home birth because statistically it was safer for me, and because my midwife (who I trusted and had a good relationship with) had recommended it.
I wanted to have a home birth because I had not had the birth experience I wanted with my eldest daughter, particularly after going into hospital.
I wanted to have a home birth because I believed that it would be the best choice for me and my baby.
But I didn’t end up having a home birth. I made the choice to trust the advice of two of three consultants I saw, who thought that because I was expecting a ‘big’ baby, I would be safer in hospital. I regret that choice now.
I spent the last 8 weeks of my pregnancy diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes, and despite it being diet managed perfectly, my daughter was still measuring above the 95th percentile. I was wholly unsurprised and unfazed by this news. My eldest daughter had been ‘big’. Neither me, nor my husband were small at birth (he is a twin and had a birth weight of just under 7lb – bigger than a lot of singleton babies!) I was fully expecting to be able to birth my child, however big, with relative ease.
But two of the consultants I saw were full of doubts. I am not an ignorant woman, and I had researched my decision to home birth fully. I had researched the risks of shoulder dysplasia and other things associated with birthing ‘big’ babies. The naysaying consultants said that they ‘strongly advised against homebirth due to risks associated with a baby estimated to be of high birth weight’. I was concerned by how adamant they were that I should not home birth. I begin to have doubts in my ability and the ability of my body to give birth to a child I had carried and nurtured and grown.
And so I gave in. I didn’t follow my gut, my heart, my head or the lead of my body. I followed the advice of someone else – who although trained and educated to a high standard – had never met me before, and was making a judgement based on notably unreliable ultrasound scans and my sparse hospital notes.
I only gave so far – I wanted a water birth, in the midwife unit, not the labour ward as they would have liked. I refused induction, and I refused a sweep at 38 weeks – all interventions I deemed highly unnecessary. I did the research, and I knew the risks. My history from my previous pregnancy indicated that my baby would indeed be bigger than average, but born with relative ease and I would labour with no intervention.
That is exactly what happened. Fortunately I ended up with a wonderful water birth in the midwife led unit. My ‘very large’ baby was 9lb 4oz and loooong at 55cm, but she came swimming into the world easily. I pushed her out in two pushes with minimal pain relief and no tearing. She was big, but not too big for my body, and I wish I had followed my instincts.
Some might argue that because I still had a lovely, peaceful, happy birth, that I should not be disappointed that I never got the chance to have my home birth. I am indeed thankful that I had a good experience and my daughter was born healthy and I was mostly happy.
But I still feel robbed of my perfect birth. I feel guilty that I gave in to the doctors, and betrayed my body and my instincts (and my research). At my first birth, the doctors had no faith in me, and the same applied the second time around. I feel bitter that the doctors advice was unfounded and unnecessary, and made me doubt myself. I had a good experience, but not the one I had so desperately hoped for.
If you’re an expectant mother, then follow your gut. Whether it is your first baby, or your fifth, you know yourself, you know your baby and the capability of your body. If you need help – ask for it – there is no shame in that. But please, respect your knowledge of you. And hope, with all your heart, for your dream birth. You deserve no less than striving for the best.